Welcoming the Other through Interreligious Dialogue, Education and Action

By Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish

Dr. Ron Kronish

Dr. Ron Kronish

November 21, 2013
Presented at the Peace Education Commission of Religions for Peace, at the World Assembly in Vienna

Read related article in the Huffington Post

Introduction

I am very pleased to be part of this distinguished panel on this important topic, which has been the essence of my professional life for the past 22 years. I founded the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel in 1991, and in all the years that I have served as Director, we have been an active member of Religions for Peace. I like the name and the mission of this organization. It says very clearly who we are and what we are for. By itself, it is an educational statement.

Unfortunately, in my part of the world, this idea is not too well understood. Too often, some religions have supported ongoing war and violence, rather than standing for peace. In contrast, I believe that the values and teachings of the great religions of the world must be harnessed to help their leaders and followers become active practitioners of peacebuilding and reconciliation.

One of the most central ways that we can welcome the other—each in our own country and region as well as internationally –is through Interreligious Dialogue, Education and Action.

Since we have done this successfully in Israel for a long time, I will share with you some of the insights and best practices of our work in the 10 minutes that have been allotted to me. To learn more, click “here” to get to our website, or go on Facebook and twitter to “like” us, and to “share” with others our insights from our blog posts—including our “stories of inspiration” series — and our best practices! (www.icci.org.il)

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“The Image of the Other – a New Paradigm”

By Ron Kronish

as published in the Huffington Post on 22.11.2013

I flew on Austrian Airlines to Vienna three days ago with Palestinians and Jews from Israel and Palestine who were invited by the new King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) On the airplane we were all talking about how remarkable it is that Jews and Palestinians had the opportunity to meet educators from all over the world, at the invitation of the government of Saudi Arabia. All of this in one of the most important cultural capitals in Europe, which only 70 years ago was under the control of German and Austrian Nazism, which wrought so much destruction and damage in Europe and the world.

So much has changed for the better in recent decades, but all too many people in the world are unfamiliar with these surprising educational and cultural developments, which is why I take the trouble to share these reflections on this blog.

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Christians from New York experience the complexities of Israel and Palestine with ICCI

by Andrew Luisi

Andrew Head Shot, StaffChrist Church, located in New York, is a congregation in the United Methodist denomination of Protestant Christianity that strives to experience God, connect with  others, and serve the world. Their mission is clear and forthright: they seek to love God before all things and their neighbors as themselves.
A group of congregants from the church came to Israel and Palestine for an intensive two-week study tour hosted by ICCI’s Center for Interreligious Encounter with Isreal, that analyzed relations between the monotheistic religions and viewed Christianity from a multicultural context.  On the last day of their program, they arrived at the ICCI for a lecture and discussion on “The Other Peace Process–Interreligious Dialogue, Education and Action in Israel-Palestine as a Form of Peace-building” by Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, director of ICCI.
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“Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue “

By Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish

as published in the Huffington Post on 21/7/13safe_image

“One of the most central tenets of Judaism is to pursue justice . We are reminded of this over and over again in the Bible, especially in the book of Deuteronomy, which we Jews began reading in our synagogues in Israel and around the world in recent weeks, and in the prophetic readings from Isaiah, which we read as supplementary to our Torah text for the next seven weeks, and on the morning of Yom Kippur. Indeed, ours is a religion which emphasizes social justice, both in our foundational texts and in our liturgy.

It is for this reason that I was honored to participate in a unique seminar on “Justice and Society” with 25 judges, law professors, lawyers and educators, at the world-renowned Aspen Institute in scenic Aspen, Colorado this past week. It was an amazing experience, one of the intellectual and spiritual highlights of my adult life.

At the closing evening of the seminar, one of the participants referred to our group as a “beloved community.” Indeed, we bonded as a group — not only through our carefully and thoughtfully facilitated discussions, but also in our coffee breaks, our meals, our hiking together, and our strolls around the awe-inspiring grounds of the Aspen Meadows campus in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. This was an extraordinary group of caring and committed intellectuals and practitioners who genuinely and actively listened deeply to each other, but also spoke personally, professionally and passionately about fundamental issues involved with creating a just society which were clearly of central importance to all of us.

What is justice? Is the law always just? Is the law always moral? What happens when our morality dictates to our conscience to be civilly disobedient to an unjust law, as in the famous examples of Rev. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, or Mahatma Gandhi — some of the great reigious leaders of the twentieth century, who were motivated by deeply held religious views of justice, based on their sacred texts and moral world-view.

And, what about economic justice? About the cruel inequalities between rich and poor in so many Western liberal democracies? Why should the top one percent of American or Israeli society live in such affluence and abundance when there are so many disenfranchised poor people in these societies? What should be done to tax the rich more fairly so that distributive justice becomes a reality and not just a philosophical idea?”

 

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Reflections on Ramadan: S.A. Ibrahim

A week before the beginning of this year’s month of Ramadan (now in its 14th day), Mr. S.A. Ibrahim sat on a plane and wrote down reflections “not only from a long time back – half a century ago, but also of a distant place, Hyderabad.” In a special letter he recently shared with us, he tells us of his childhood as a young Muslim boy in India, of the excitement of the days leading up to Ramadan, the special dishes and customs of the holiday itself, and the meaning of this month to him both as a child then, in India, and as an adult now, in the U.S. We invite you to read this letter at: http://icci.org.il/downloads/RamadanReflections.pdf.

Mr. S.A. Ibrahim is chief executive officer of a US-based global credit risk management company. He is a Muslim American businessman of Indian origin, who is active in promoting interreligious dialogue. In 2011, Mr. Ibrahim received ICCI’s “Building Bridges and Bonds” award at a special dinner event in Washington, DC.

The French Shootings

Copy of e-mail sent to PM’s office and the Israel Embassy

From: Ibrahim, S.A.
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 8:33 AM
Subject: French Shootings

I was shocked to hear of the cold blooded murder of innocent children, their teacher and the soldiers in Toulouse. I am filled with deep sadness and extreme revulsion and my heart goes out the families of the victims and to the French Jewish community and the people of France and to parents everywhere . Sometimes in the face of such hate filled acts, I wonder if the work being done to fight hate has a chance of success at all. Yet, I know that we cannot give up, if only because all of us would rather go to our graves having tried than not even having attempted to make a difference. Organizations like the ADL and decent people of all nationalities and persuasions have to become even more dedicated to fight hate in all its manifestations. Equally, the international community has to focus on bringing those responsible for acts of hate and for the murder of innocent children to justice (if justice can ever be done in such cases).

I would like to offer my sympathies and condolences to the victims’ families but don’t know how to go about it and don’t know if I can come up with adequate words that can even slightly console the deep hurt. As a parent, as a human being and as a Muslim, who is disgusted at what some who profess my faith do in the distorted belief that they are protecting its honor, I can only say that I am sorry that parents like me had to experience the ultimate horror that any parent can ever experience. In not being able to come up with more words for the bereaved, I am reminded of Job who sat silently and the wisdom of the Torah, in the words of Rabbi Abin, who said: “At times like this the Torah takes refuge in silence.”

However, when it comes to the act itself, I have strong words of condemnation as I hope do the majority of the followers of my faith as well as all caring human beings around the world.

SA Ibrahim

Mr. S.A. Ibrahim is chief executive officer of a US-based global credit risk management company. He is a Muslim American businessman of Indian origin, who has made pilgrimage to Mecca twice in recent years. Mr. Ibrahim has become a friend of ICCI during the past two years, and is active in promoting interreligious dialogue. In June 2011, he was awarded ICCI’s first “Building Bridges and Bonds” Award for his commitment and dedication to the vision and mission of ICCI.

Hannukah Greetings from the Ibrahim Family

Dear friends,

May you and yours enjoy the blessings of Hanukkah as you light candles to fulfill the obligation enacted by the Sages. May the blessings, miracles and wonders from your household spill over to all the other households in our Nation and in the world, so that the world at large can benefit from the ancient wisdom and traditions of the Jewish people.

In the broader spirit of Hanukkah, which means “dedication”, let us all dedicate ourselves, Jew as well as Gentile, to wishing for a miracle that brings about a better world — a world where we accept and love each other and where we rejoice in each others’ celebrations, as I plan to do on Wednesday evening at the lighting of the second candle at the Embassy of Israel in Washington.

Nina and SA Ibrahim

The Ibrahim family is an American Muslim family that promotes international and interreligious understanding through the Ibrahim Family Foundation, which sponsors the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Project in the Middle East, administered by the Institute of International Education, and supports the work of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel. Mr. S.A. Ibrahim, the CEO of Radian Group, received ICCI’s “Building Bridges and Bonds” in June this year.

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